Phil Steele published his list of returning college football starters for 2016. The numbers aren’t full proof – Alabama backups are preferable to experienced Wake Forest players – but they can provide some broad context entering the season. More experience and continuity tends to be a good thing.
Teams With Many Starters
LSU will be among the most hyped teams. Best player (perhaps). Monster recruiting class. Big bowl win. Eighteen starters return, tied for most in FBS. Don’t bring up that they’ve done nothing to address the quarterback play. It will ruin the narrative. Tennessee is close behind with 17. Will the Vols finally beat someone good in the SEC?
Louisville has 18 starters back, after being gutted in 2015 (9 starters), particularly on offense. Florida State has 18 as well, including everyone on offense. Will Sean Mcguire be the guy? The ACC on the whole has eight schools bringing back 15 or more starters. That tally doesn’t include relatively well stocked Clemson and North Carolina teams.
Teams With Few Starters
It could be a down year for the Big Ten. Ohio State returns just six starters after historic draft departures, fewest in FBS. Michigan State is near the bottom with only 10 starters back. Only two schools bring back more than 14 starters, Purdue and Rutgers. Could be an opportunity for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan to storm back.
Big 12 contenders take a hit as well. Baylor and TCU were loaded for 2015, but have just 10 starters each coming back. Though the Bears have Seth Russell return at quarterback, while TCU is hitting the reset button, probably with the infamous transfer Kenny Trill.
Notre Dame’s talent exodus and glut of early entrants will hurt. The Irish lose 12 starters, and at least two probable first-round draft picks. Throw Ole Miss in at well, losing 12 starters and some first-round talent. Though, with Chad Kelly, the Rebels should be ahead of the conference pack at quarterback.